Holiday shopping

Janesville-based Blain's Farm & Fleet is one of just a few major retailers not to open on Thanksgiving.

At Kohl’s, the enticements for shopping on Thanksgiving Day from the Menominee Falls-based retailer included $5 blenders, sweaters for $17 that normally are $44 and 32-inch HD televisions with $99 price tags.

For Green Bay-based Shopko, the door busters at its 321 stores in 23 states featured $70 tablets, 75 percent off gold and silver jewelry and $100 off a Shark Navigator vacuum.

But two other Wisconsin-based retailers went out of their way this week to let customers know that they were closed on Thanksgiving, and not just for part of the day.

Janesville-based Farm & Fleet and Menards, based in Eau Claire, have become anomalies by keeping their doors closed on Thanksgiving. Shopko was open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and reopened at 6 p.m. Kohl’s, with 1,163 stores in 49 states, opened at 6 p.m. and, like Shopko, was scheduled to stay open through Friday.

Farm & Fleet and Menards were scheduled to open Friday at 6 a.m.

“It’s simply not worth it,” said Jane Blain Gilbertson, owner of Farm & Fleet and daughter of co-founder Bert Blain. “We are a company with great history, just shy of 60 years now. And it is my job to ensure the right balance of honoring our historical practices with certain contemporary trends.”

Farm & Fleet, founded in 1955, and known for its Toyland during the Christmas season, has more than 4,000 employees at 36 locations in three states.

Menards, with 240 stores in 14 states, also cited family and tradition in its announcement.

“As a family-owned company, Menards believes that Thanksgiving is a time for togetherness, which should be celebrated with all those we hold dear,” according to a statement from the company founded in 1960.

How long the two Wisconsin companies will be able to continue to remain closed on Thanksgiving is unknown, considering more and more retailers have opened on the holiday. In 2013, the number of shoppers on Thanksgiving was up 27 percent from 2012 to 44.8 million people, according to the National Retail Federation.

Shopko has been opening on Thanksgiving mornings for over 20 years, according to spokeswoman Michele Hansen. In recent years, the company has evolved from opening at 5 a.m. Friday and then to midnight Thursday. In 2013, Shopko stores opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

“We’ve never had an issue staffing Thanksgiving Day,” said Mike Blattner, manager of the Shopko on Madison’s Far West Side. “It’s really in response to customer demand.”

Blattner said about 20 employees work on Thanksgiving morning with about 60 scheduled for the 6 p.m. opening.

Jerry O’Brien, executive director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing Excellence at UW-Madison, said it’s unlikely retailers that open on Thanksgiving will retreat due to competition. But sales are about the same, regardless if a store is open or closed on the holiday, he said.

“Friday as a standalone has lost some significance but combined they’re pretty much what they were,” O’Brien said. “It’s just more time. It has spread (shopping) out.”

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.